Multifaceted Manhattan

By Bailey Mcgrath

Manhattan seems both like a very small and very large place to me. The density in terms of buildings and people in Manhattan makes the time to travel one mile much greater than it would to go the same distance in a suburban town. This allows this small island to have neighborhoods and places with vastly different personalities than their neighbors.

NYC Neighborhoods map

The other day, I had a very drastic change of scenery - without taking a single step! I simply turned 180 degrees. In the Financial District of Manhattan, if one stands at the location of the red star on the map below and faces east, they see the hub that is One World Trade Center designed by Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill and the Oculus designed by Santiago Calatrava. However, if one faces west in the exact same location, they could suddenly be mistaken that they are in the Irish countryside when in fact they are just standing at the Irish Hunger Memorial

The Irish Hunger Memorial, facing West

View of One World Trade Center, facing East

These two photos were taken in the exact same place. The Irish Hunger Memorial was unveiled in 2002 and was designed by Brian Tolle of Brian Tolle Studio. This monument serves as a reminder of both the Great Potato Famine and Migration that occurred in Ireland in the 1800’s. It is also a reminder of the hunger crises that continue today. Featured in the memorial is an abandoned stone cottage from County Mayo that was donated and reconstructed at the memorial. There is also a wall comprised of a stone from each of Ireland’s 32 counties. The landscape includes abandoned potato fields and native grasses, as well as flora distinctive to Ireland, such as poppies. All of the plants were also brought over from Ireland.

A stone in the memorial from County Clare in Ireland

The opposite side of the Memorial is where the entrance is, and it includes stone slabs from Kilkenny, Ireland in between lit bands of text including information about the Great Potato Famine as well as current hunger crises.

View of Entryway to Irish Hunger Memorial

One World Trade Center and the Irish Hunger Memorial are completely different. When looking in one direction, it is clear that you are in contemporary lower Manhattan, a place that has gone through great transformations, reconstruction, and growth in past years. When looking in the opposite direction, one feels as if they were in County Mayo of Ireland in the 1820’s. A place that is also going through its own historic changes and struggles, that brought people across the Atlantic Ocean for a better life in the United States. That said, both monuments transport us between different time periods in the seemingly small Financial District of New York City.